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SEO / Search Engine Optmization vs PPC / Google AdWords

by BANG! Website Design • December 25, 2015

Had an interesting discussion this week with one of our client's where we discussed the pros and cons of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) vs PPC (Pay-Per-Click Google AdWords). I come down firmly on voting for SEO, but there are times when PPC is the way to go with your Internet Marketing.

SEO vs PPC - Who Wins This Internet Marketing Battle?

In this case it was an easy "Knockout" decision. The client has a well aged domain and a site we built from the ground up with great on-site search engine optimization. What he lacked was continuity in his content marketing (last blog post was 10 months ago). He was also spending over $2,000 a month with Google for an AdWords campaign. Don't get me wrong, the AdWords campaign was working. He was driving traffic and we were logging plenty of conversions but as I explained to him working on his SEO or "Natural Search Rankings" was going to be the way to go long-term. Here's why...
  • PPC or Pay-Per-Click Ads are only clicked on by 75% to 80% of people when they search. So he was missing out on 4 out of 5 of his prospective customers from the get go.
  • Great SEO generally effects the local search results (map based results) in a positive manner as well. With the "3 pack" replacing the "6 pack" (3 or 6 results showed in the map based results respectively) this year it's even more important to have optimal local SEO in place as you won't likely show on the map if you don't.
  • Google wants their $2,000 every single month... if you don't pay, you don't get to play. In time we can get him two to five times the results for 1/2  the cost. Eventually we can probably taper down to even 1/4 the cost without sacrificing results. It's certainly easier to maintain great rankings than getting to the #1 search result to begin with.
So my recommendation to this customer, let's spend the dollars for SEO in 2016 and once we achieve those great search rankings we can either taper down the AdWords spend or maybe even get rid of it completely.

Why don't we recommend this path for everyone? In the following instances, PPC can be the way to go, at least for awhile.
  • New domain name, less than 1 year old. I've yet to see top rankings for a new domain within that first year unless it's a very uncompetitive keyword phrase. PPC might be the best alternative to drive traffic now.
  • When you absolutely have to have traffic "over night". A PPC campaign can get ramped up very quickly and drive traffic. SEO even for a non-competitive keyword phrase is still going to take time.
  • Really competitive search phrases. Industries like real estate, law, and even some product searches are highly competitive with lots of established players (Think Amazon...). Competing in that circle is going to take a lot of SEO juice to get the job done. If the client can afford it, long term it is still the way to go, but it won't be an inexpensive SEO campaign if we are going to get results.

That's my take. What are your thoughts? Can you think of any other times when PPC might be preferable over SEO?